Daily Current Affairs - 12th May 2020

Bachchan, Ekta Kapoor, Manoj Bajpayee team up for motivational track amid coronavirus pandemic

  • Over 80 artistes, including Amitabh Bachchan, Manoj Bajpayee, Ekta Kapoor, Sonu Nigam, Kapil Sharma and Shreya Ghoshal have come together for a song that signifies hope amid the coronavirus pandemic. The track "Guzar Jayega", has been composed by Jazim Sharma with lyrics penned by Siddhanth Kaushal.

BFIL facilitates Rs.100 cr of transactions through rural distribution service points

  • Bharat Financial Inclusion Ltd (BFIL), an arm of IndusInd Bank, has facilitated financial transactions worth over Rs.100 crore through its wide network of rural distribution service points (RDSP) in Karnataka, Odisha, Maharashtra and Bihar.
  • These RDSPs, also known as ‘Bharat Money Store’, is a business innovation by BFIL that offers the convenience of facilitating deposits and withdrawals for the rural population based in remote locations of the country.

Bond yields rise as govt. expands borrowing plan

  • The yield on the most-traded 10-year government bond spiked 20 bps (basis points) on Monday after the government announced it would increase its market borrowings by more than Rs. 4 lakh crore for FY21.
  • The yield stood at 6.17% at the close of trading hours on Monday, up 20 bps from the previous close. Intraday, yield rose 27 bps, the sharpest intraday surge since February 2017.
  • The estimated gross market borrowing in the financial year 2020-21 will be Rs.12 lakh crore in the place of Rs.7.80 lakh crore as per BE (budgeted estimates) for 2020-21. The above revision in borrowings has been necessitated on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Centre releases Rs 6,195 crore to 14 states

  • The Centre has released over 6 thousand 195 crore rupees to 14 states as the second equated monthly installment of the Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant. The grant was recommendation by the 15th Finance Commission. The grant has been released to the States of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim
  • The amount released includes over one thousand 276 crore rupees to Kerala, 952 crore rupees to Himachal Pradesh, 638 crore rupees to Punjab, over 631 crore rupees to Assam, around 418 crore rupees to West Bengal and 423 crore rupees to Uttarakhand.

COVID-19 cases climb to 70756; death toll rises to 2293 in India

  • A total of three thousand 604 new confirmed cases of novel corona virus have been reported in the country during the last twenty four hours taking the total number of cases to 70 thousand 756.
  • Health and Family Welfare Ministry said that 22 thousand 455 patients have cured so far and the recovery rate reached to 31.73 percent. During the last 24 hours, 87 deaths have been reported taking the nationwide toll to 2293.

COVID-19: Mike Pompeo holds video conference with counterparts from six nations

  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has discussed with his counterparts from India, Australia, Brazil, Israel, Japan and South Korea the importance of international cooperation, transparency, and accountability in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic and in addressing its causes. The virtual meeting of the ministers also discussed collaboration toward preventing future global health crises and reaffirming the importance of the rules-based international order.

CSIR-NAL develops Non-Invasive Ventilator to treat COVID-19 patients

  • CSIR - National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) Bangalore, a constituent of lab of CSIR has developed a Non Invasive BiPAP Ventilator in a record time of 36 days to treat COVID-19 patients. BiPAP Non-Invasive ventilator is a microcontroller-based precise closed-loop adaptive control system with a built-in biocompatible “3D printed manifold & coupler” with HEPA filter (Highly Efficient Particulate Air Filter).. This system has been certified for safety and performance by NABL accredited agencies.
  • The major advantage of this machine is that it is simple to use without any specialized nursing, cost effective, compact and configured with majority of indigenous components.

English Premier League likely from June

  • The English Premier League will be allowed to resume the 2019-20 season from June 1 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.The league may begin without spectators starting in June. The Premier League's clubs will vote on an official return within the next few days.
  • France's Ligue 1 wiped out the remainder of the 2019-20 season in April and named Paris Saint-Germain the champions. The Bundesliga in Germany is set to return Saturday behind closed doors, while Spain's La Liga is planning a return in June.

ICMR joins hands with Bharat Biotech to develop indigenous coronavirus vaccine

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) announced a tie-up with Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) to develop a fully indigenous vaccine using the virus strain isolated at the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune. The strain has been successfully transferred from NIV to BBIL.
  • Over 40 vaccine candidates are currently in various stages of development around the world to fight Covid-19 pandemic.

ICMR, NCDC to initiate sero-survey to monitor COVID-19 prevalence at district level

  • Indian Council of Medical Research, ICMR and National Centre for Disease Control are going to initiate a population-based sero-survey in selected districts in collaboration with key stakeholders and State Health Departments. The objective of this survey is to monitor the trend in prevalence of COVID-19 infection at district level.
  • In the survey, 200 samples per district per week and 800 samples per district per month shall be taken. From each district, 10 health facilities including six public and four private health facilities shall be selected. The samples will be tested in a one-time pool of 25 and result of sample pooling is only for surveillance purposes. It should not be used for diagnosis of individual patients.

IDBI Federal Life Insurance net rises 22 per cent to Rs.162 crore in FY20

  • IDBI Federal Life Insurance reported a 22 per cent increase in its net profit to Rs.162 crore in 2019-20.This is the eight consecutive year of profit for the organisation since it first declared profit in 2012-13. However, its total premium declined 4.65 per cent to Rs.1,843 crore in 2019-20 from Rs.1,933 crore in 2018-19. Renewal premium grew 14 per cent year-on-year to Rs.1,282 crore last fiscal.
  • Assets under management grew seven per cent to Rs.9,775 crore in 2019-20 from Rs.9,107 crore in 2018-19.

Indian Chess.com’s league from May 15

  • The inaugural Sukooon Resorts Indian Chess.com League (ICL), scheduled from May 15 to 17, brings together several young Grandmasters knocking on the doors of the National team. A total of 10 teams will take part in the tournament which will see the participation of over 25 Indian Grandmasters.
  • India's top chess players, including talented youngsters such as R Praggnanandhaa, D Gukesh, Nihal Sarin and national champion Aravindh Chithambaram will take part in this league.

MSME Ministry launches CHAMPIONS portal

  • Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSME Ministry has launched CHAMPIONS portal www.Champions.gov.in, a technology driven control room-cum-management information system. The initiative is aimed at assisting Indian MSMEs to march into big league as national and global champions.
  • The CHAMPIONS stands for Creation and Harmonious Application of Modern Processes for Increasing the Output and National Strength. The portal is basically for making the smaller units big by solving their grievances, encouraging, supporting, helping and handholding.
  • The system is enabled by Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics and Machine Learning

No increase in lease rent for SEZ units for FY20-21: Govt

  • Union Government has said that there will be no increase in lease rent for the Special Economic Zone, SEZ units for financial year 2020-21. The decision has been taken in order to provide interim relief to SEZ units in lease rent on account of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Commerce and Industry Ministry said, payment of lease rent of 1st quarter is to be deferred up to 31st of July for all SEZ units. The deferment will not invite any interest. The Ministry has also asked Development Commissioners of Special Economic Zones to advise developers of State Governments and private SEZs to consider similar relief measures in their zones.

Sania wins Fed Cup Heart Award

  • Tennis player Sania Mirza became the first Indian to win the Fed Cup Heart Award for her successful return to the court post motherhood. Sania won the award for Asia/Oceania zone after securing a whopping 10,000 plus votes out of the total 16,985 cast for this year’s three regional Group I nominees. The winners from each category received USD 2000 as prize money.
  • Anett Kontaveit (Estonia) emerged victorious from Europe/Africa and Fernanda Contreras Gomez of Mexico triumphed from the Americas region.
  • The Fed Cup Heart Award winners were determined via online voting by fans which went on for a week starting from May 1.

Saudi Arabia to raise VAT from 5% to 15% from 1st July

  • The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has decided to raise value added tax (VAT) from 5 percent to 15 percent starting from 1st July and has taken a decision to suspend cost of living allowance starting from 1st June. The Kingdom has also decided to cancel, extend, or postpone some operational and capital expenditures for some government agencies, as well reduce provisions for initiative of a number of Vision Realization Programs and major projects for the fiscal year 2020.

TRAI advisory on online platform tariff

  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued an advisory asking the public to exercise caution and check charges for online conferencing platforms beforehand to avoid ‘bill shocks’. It has been brought to the notice of TRAI that a few consumers have experienced bill shocks when they joined online conferencing platforms inadvertently dialing international numbers.

UGC issues guidelines on Examinations, Academic Calendar in view of COVID-19 pandemic

  • University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued Guidelines on Examinations and Academic Calendar in view of COVID-19 pandemic. All universities have been advised to plan their academic activities keeping in view the safety and interest of all stakeholders, giving highest priority to the health of all concerned, while adopting and implementing the Guidelines.

WHO warns countries for reopening of their economies without setting up strong contact tracing

  • World Health Organization's emergencies chief, Dr Michael Ryan has warned that countries are essentially driving blind in reopening their economies without setting up strong contact tracing to beat back flare-ups of the coronavirus. The warning came as France and Belgium emerged from lockdowns, the Netherlands sent children back to school, and a number of US states continued to lift their business restrictions.
  • Authorities have warned that the scourge could come back with a vengeance without widespread testing and tracing of infected people's contacts.

WHO's Chief Scientist praises India for keeping Coronavirus cases and deaths very low

  • World Health Organization's Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan has commended India for keeping the Corona virus cases and deaths very low as compared to other countries and said it will play an important role in the development of a vaccine for COVID-19.
  • On vaccine development, Ms Swaminathan said the world cannot have enough vaccines for everyone, if India is not part of the process.